As we rapidly near the end of the minor league season, it's natural to look back to our preseason expectations and see what differences reality has brought us. Scanning back over the Top 30 (here, here, and here) and notable omissions (here), some of the developments are easy to spot: the meteoric rise of Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, and Jarred Cosart; the struggles of the Lee three; and the influx of new talent via the draft. Our prospect roundups have touched on all of the drastic risers and fallers, as we watch the Top 30 list almost organically reshape itself for next year.
But what about the non-drastic movers? The guys who haven't been spectacular, and haven't been awful -- they just haven't done any one "wow" thing to merit continued mention on the prospect roundups? If you were wondering about any of them, then this prospect roundup is for you. Here are the thus far unrepresented and underrepresented prospects from the offseason's list, as we try to touch on everyone before the season draws to a close.
Tyson Gillies, OF-L, Reading: I was all set to write about Gillies before the cocaine bust, and to say that that complicates matters is, well, understating things a bit. I'm sure it was a frustrating year for the Canadian speedster, with a sore hamstring limiting him to just 28 games. As far as performance goes, the phrase "partial injury mulligan" that John Sickels uses seems entirely appropriate: Gillies deserves some slack, but the lost year of development and injury concerns will conspire to knock him down a peg on prospect lists. As for the pending charges... who knows? We'll have to wait for more details to emerge, but as a foreign national in the country on a work visa, things could get dicey.
Kelly Dugan, OF-S, Williamsport:
Jonathan Pettibone, RHP, Lakewood: Pettibone's solid strikeout rate (9.2 K/9) and worm burning tendencies (49.6% GB) in a limited sample at Williamsport last year led to me to rank him 21st on the offseason Top 30 list. While the ground ball rate is still in the same neighborhood this year (47.6%), the whiff rate is not (5.2 K/9), and it's not like we have reports of Pettibone simply struggling to harness his overpowering stuff as a mitigating factor here. He's still just 20, and he's still projectable and gets grounders, but his stock is definitely down at this point.
Mike Stutes, RHP, Lehigh Valley: I figured Stutes for a bullpen conversion candidate in last year's Top 30, but thought enough of his potential in that role to name him the organization's 25th best prospect. Stutes hasn't had quite the statistical uptick I might have suspected, however, as a solid strikeout rate (9.8 K/9) is counteracted by otherwise mediocre peripherals (5.3 BB/9, 0.83 HR/9, 38.3% GB). If he can throw strikes, he could still end up a useful bullpen piece, though it's looking increasingly less likely that he'll ever find his way into a high-leverage role.
Leandro Castro, OF-R, Lakewood: Castro burst onto the scene last year when a midseason demotion to Williamsport spurred him to a .316/.351/.512 performance. Given another crack at Lakewood this year, he's been just okay, with an improved but still impatient approach (6.1% BB, 18.6% K) holding him back. Scouting reports indicate that the Dominican's tools are excellent, but -- stop me if you've heard this before -- he has a ways to go in refining them. For now, put him a tick behind Jiwan James in the toolshed power rankings."
Yohan Flande, LHP, Reading: Flande's lack of true swing-and-miss stuff didn't bother me unduly before this year, because he had posted otherwise sterling peripherals (good walk, ground ball, and home run rates) and still induced enough strikeouts (6.9 K/9 in 2009) to project as a back end starter. Extended exposure to Double-A hitters, however, has seen Flande's strikeout rate drop to a paltry 4.5 K/9, and truthfully, no amount of ground balls and stinginess with the free pass can overcome that. It might be time to see if the 24-year old experiences an uptick in velocity if shifted to the bullpen.
Jesus Sanchez, RHP, Clearwater: It might seem strange to say I'm slightly disappointed by a campaign featuring a 2.90 ERA and a .227 BAA, but maybe it's because my expectations were so high. Sanchez has done some things well -- he's limited the walks (2.3 BB/9) and long balls (0.65 HR/9) while minimizing any platoon split -- but his success is largely BABIP-fueled (just .259 this season), and his whiff rate has plummeted from 7.9 K/9 last year to just 5.8 K/9 this year. Without ground ball tendencies (just 39.7% on the season), Sanchez's pitching style leaves little margin for error, and I'm somewhat skeptical of how he'll fare in making the Double-A jump next year.
Matt Way, LHP, Clearwater: Way threw 86.1 innings of 3.12 FIP ball in Low-A to begin the year, and quite frankly, he was probably wasting his time there, as the polished college senior overmatched younger and more inexperienced hitters. Unfortunately, Way fell victim to the injury bug just two starts into his High-A campaign, so we're officially left with more questions than answers at this point. Way will be 24 to begin next year, probably in Clearwater, and we simply won't know what we've got on our hands until he's facing something approaching age appropriate hitters. Way still has a shot as a back end starter if all goes well, but the clock is ticking.
Zach Collier, OF-L, Williamsport: It seems like forever ago that Collier impressed as a raw 17-year old in the Gulf Coast League, prompting his placement in nearly every organizational Top 10 list heading into the 2009 season. A .221/.276/.324 year split between Williamsport and Lakewood knocked expectations down a peg or two, and a hamate injury has forced Collier to miss the entire 2010 campaign. He's still young, and he still has good raw tools, but Collier at this point is nearly every bit the lottery ticket that Anthony Hewitt and Kyrell Hudson are.
Joe Savery, DH, Lehigh Valley: The big news is the position listed next to Savery's name, as the organization announced last week that the former Rice southpaw would try his hand at hitting. Chuck Lamar may say, "We still think of him... as a potential Major League starter," but a 4.93 FIP season as a 24-year old in Triple-A has me skeptical about his future as a hurler. Hitting may not be much easier, as the pitcher-to-hitter conversion is much more difficult than the other way around, but Savery did manage a .357/.448/.528 line over three college seasons, so maybe it's worth a shot. Of course, it would lower the bar if Savery could manage to play the outfield, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here.